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Archive 2013 · Strobes for groups
  
 
bipock
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p.1 #1 · Strobes for groups


I'm doing a voluntary shoot for my churches youth group this weekend. 60-70 kids, mostly all outdoors in direct sunlight and shaded area. Probably do one big group picture and then pictures of clusters of the youth "clowning" for the camera, especially the girls.

I plan to use an AB1600 for lighting and have a SR Vari-n-duo for full sunlight use. I also have a SB-910, but thus far, my relationship with that flash hasn't been a comfortable one.

Since I have been kicking around the idea of adding a second strobe, I'm considering getting another 1600, but before I do so, I wanted some opinions on whether or not it will actually do what I am looking for it to do.

Most of my shots will be groups of 10-15 youths spaced 10-15 feet apart doing their thing. With one light, I foresee an issue getting even lighting across the entire group, especially on sides not facing the camera. I would want second light to fill in these areas.

Simple enough. Would a second light be capable of handling this?



May 13, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Steve Wylie
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p.1 #2 · Strobes for groups


The small groups ("10-15 youths spaced 10-15 feet apart") can easily be covered by one strobe in an umbrella. This isn't that big a group; hopefully you can place them in light or shade that's consistent across the group. One big group of 60-70 can also be lit with one light if your reflector is wide angle. I've lit a group of 65 cheerleaders with one Calumet Travelite. It took all 750ws to fill in the shadows caused by the sun angle, which was over their shoulders behind them, but with the AB1600 you should be able to place the flash where you need to get enough light in there. The posing of this group resulted in half the group fairly evenly lit by the sun and half with harsh shadows. The strobe lifted the shadows on the shaded side of the group without overpowering the sun on the others. I was a bit concerned about achieving a successful sync speed, but with the ISO set at 100 and aperture at f/11, I was able to get a perfect exposure at 1/160 without a neutral density filter.


May 13, 2013 at 01:58 PM
bipock
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p.1 #3 · Strobes for groups


So, really rather than a second light, I should go with a larger umbrella as opposed to the softbox? Probably around 60-80" white umbrella.


May 13, 2013 at 02:17 PM
BigIronCruiser
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p.1 #4 · Strobes for groups


Just be aware that large umbrella's have a lot of surface area, which could be a nightmare if it turns out to be breezy.


May 13, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Steve Wylie
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p.1 #5 · Strobes for groups


For the small groups, yes, an umbrella is fine (noting the comment on wind, which is very true). For the big group, no. Depending on how far back your light is, you may very well need a wide angle reflector. I'm not a Paul Buff user, so I don't know what options there are for your AB1600, but for my Calumet Travelites, I just mount the wide angle reflector with no other modifiers.


May 13, 2013 at 11:05 PM
 

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cgardner
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p.1 #6 · Strobes for groups


Lighting isn't just about intensity you need to consider direction. When two crossed flashes are combined with the natural light modeling can become an unnatural looking muddle of shadow and highlight clues.

A good strategy outdoors in is to put the sun directly behind the subjects. That faces them towards the brightest part of the skylight and makes it easier to balance flash and ambient: you set exposure for around f/11 @ 1/250th @ ISO 100 (Sunny 16 adjusted for sync limit) then add flash to balance perceptually.

By balance perceptually I mean if a subject is wearing white clothing with bare arms you expose the sunlit parts below clipping in the playback. Then to maintain the ambience of the backlighting you need to slightly underexpose the adjacent shaded side clothing / skin. Raise the flash exposure until you see the front side clipping then back down until the balance looks "normal" in the playback, about 1/2 stop less.

As for where to put the flash in front? First get the faces up into the natural light so the brows don't shade the eyes, as open shade / skylight usually will. Do that by bringing a ladder along, getting the camera 8-9 feet off the ground and saying, "Hey look up here."

If sun is at their backs the shaded side should have a nice centered pattern from the downward vector of the skylight. Match that natural "key" vector by putting your flash "key" at a similar angle, centered and over their heads. Because they need to look up to get the skylight in the eyes you'll want a 12' stand, or lash a shorter one to a leg of the ladder.

If you get a second flash put it below the first in front of the ladder around chin level as fill. Starting with a foundation of even fill will double the amount of light and allow you to move the shooting position back create a larger footprint with both light.

Before the event you should experiment with the set-up in the yard. Set the light on max power and get three stands or chairs and drape a white cloth over them. Put one in the center and two on the sides. Shoot facing the sun and expose the sunlit parts of the cloth just under clipping. Then set your flash to max power and keep move the center target back until it stops clipping. Move the ones on the sides the same way. That will give you a good idea what your effective range and footprint are outdoors. Tie a string to the light with knot at the distance the exposure is correct in the middle. The range on the sides where the exposure is the same should be on the arc you get when you swing the string. At the event, using the string, you can put markers on the ground at the same distances as guides.




May 13, 2013 at 11:34 PM
ravisrajan
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p.1 #7 · Strobes for groups


I came across this website months ago and he used 3 light setup with PCB PLM system with AB1600 to light this group shot about 80+ person.
http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10046-10396



May 14, 2013 at 01:43 AM
egd5
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p.1 #8 · Strobes for groups


Neat idea using the string. Hope I can remember it.


May 16, 2013 at 12:14 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #9 · Strobes for groups


egd5 wrote:
Neat idea using the string. Hope I can remember it.


It's an old trick. Light sources radiate in an arc of equal power so if you line up a group in an arc with a single light in the middle putting the end of the string the same distance from each face exposure will be more equal across the group than if they face the light in a straight line. The arc also puts them equidistant to the camera as well, minimizing near / far perspective differences in head size.

Too help remember it tie a piece of string to your finger; another old 'memory' trick



May 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM
Deezie
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p.1 #10 · Strobes for groups


Nice post, Chuck!


May 16, 2013 at 01:48 PM





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